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Article posted: 7/17/2013 11:07 AM

Dancing, drumming highlight traditional Japanese summer fest


Mitsuwa Marketplace is holding its free annual Bon-Dancing Festival, or Natsu-Matsuri (Traditional Japanese Summer Festival), from 2-8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 3, at the marketplace, Algonquin and Arlington Heights roads, Arlington Heights.

The festival will feature traditional Japanese dancers, taiko drummers, authentic Japanese food and drink, Japanese games and other activities. The event is free.

Starting at 7 p.m., visitors are encouraged to dance around the yagura (the tower from where the entertainers play music). This dancing is called bon-odori in Japanese. "Bon" means the Buddhist festival of the ancestors and "Odori" means to dance.

It is similar to line dancing, and you will see many Japanese and American families in colorful traditional kimonos or yukatas (the summer kimono) attire.

Mitsuwa has prepared 11 songs for the general public to dance to, one of which is called Chicago Ondo, an original song honoring Chicagoans.

The festival also will feature live entertainment by the professional Taiko Drummers, tsukasa-daiko traditional dance by the Okinawans (Okinawa is the southernmost island of Japan), and karate demonstrations by Shidokan Karate.

Mitsuwa Marketplace is the largest Japanese grocery store in the Midwest, known as the "Mall of Japan." The Bon-Dancing Festival is the largest Japanese event in the Midwest and people travel from many states to attend.

In addition to the fresh foods inside its store and food court, outside kiosks will sell ramen and rice dishes, shaved ice with syrup, cotton candy, Japanese pot stickers and hot dogs, and Japanese beverages. There also will be a store featuring Japanese anime maskso.

The shopping center is at 100 E. Algonquin Road; (847) 956-6699. Mitsuwa, Japan's largest supermarket chain, also has six marketplaces in California and one in New York.

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